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Author Topic: Is file size set-in-stone, or is there leeway?  (Read 2365 times)

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Offline GammaDriver

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Is file size set-in-stone, or is there leeway?
« on: November 25, 2005, 03:21:57 PM »
I was just going to post this, then read Rick R's post below ( ), and it seems to address my question a little.

My question was/is: my saw's chain size states it needs a 5/32 file for sharpening.  However, before I found this info (again), and during the huricane black-out aftermath, I was able to get my hands on a 3/16 fle which seemed to fit fine.  I sharpened the saw a few times using that file, got bigger chips (obviously,  ;) - but I hear bigger chips is usually a good thing indicating chain sharpness)... anyway, the saw ran great, and did its job.

Now, with the proper 5/32 file and an Oregon guide, the chain is getting sharpened like it called for.  My question is - could I just have kept using the 3/16 file if I was careful about depth and angle?  It did just fine, and it made the teeth fully sharp (instead of just (seemingly) the top part, which an Oregon file guide limits the sharpening to).

This was on a Poulan Pro 295 2.8 cubic inch saw.  I understand power limitations, so this is more a question of chain ability.   I would not even try it on my new aquisition - I am the new and proud owner of a second saw, a Stihl 192T (6.6 pounds - it can sit right beside me on the floor of the truck... i have yet to give it a name or get it a social security number though).

I'm expecting some reprimanding for not following my chain's recommendations (which is fine - I need to learn somehow), but I'd like to hear what your experiences or horror stories are.



Offline jokers

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Re: Is file size set-in-stone, or is there leeway?
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2005, 04:26:45 PM »
Hi Dave,

You have proven that those file sizes are merely guidelines. If it`s sharp, it`s sharp. It doesn`t matter how it got that way.


Online beenthere

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Re: Is file size set-in-stone, or is there leeway?
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2005, 05:39:50 PM »
As you get further back in the tooth, you may find as I did, that the chain 'strap' is being filed into, so changing to the smaller file as the tooth gets short might be good. 
I use the larger file (7/32") than recommended for my Stihl chain, and then the 'correct' or recommended file (13/64") when the teeth are getting shorter.  Works for me. :)
south central Wisconsin
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Offline Deadwood

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Re: Is file size set-in-stone, or is there leeway?
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2005, 09:31:35 PM »
I have to agree with what everyone else has said so far, but to answer yoiur orginal question (is there leeway in file sises) the answer is a resounding yes. In fact I know some loggers who "square file," that is use a flat file to cut some sort of special notch in the tooth. I tried it, but I am kind of old school so it did not work well for me. My uncle uses a triangular file and I use a round file one size too big. Its what works for you that counts.

Offline rickk

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Re: Is file size set-in-stone, or is there leeway?
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2005, 09:42:46 AM »
The bigger ships may be simply because you sharpened it, not because you used a bigger file. The only part of the tooth that cuts is pretty much the outer .025-.030 " of the sideplate. If you are using a bigger file, you are probably sharpening a whole bunch of the tooth that doesn't really do anything, possibly weakening the tooth, and getting closer quicker to parts of the chain that shouldn't have a file near them.  Depending on how you are holding the file (the amount that protrudes above the top of the tooth), you may be changing the angle of the top plate a bit. If you hold it too high, the angle will push the wood and not peel the chips out very well. If you hold it too low, you are cutting deeper than needed and weakening the tooth.

I just checked Oregon Chain's web site... there appears to be no bigger chain available for your saw, so swapping to a chain that is made for that file (if you liked having one file size for both saws) appears to be out of the question.

Sharpening info for your chain can be seen at .   

All the angles will come out correct only if you use the correct file.

Of course, Your mileage may vary... etc... etc ...

If it works, it works.

 Just make sure you don't start cutting into parts of the chain that are not supposed to be cut.... broken chains can damage a saw and also the saw holder (that means you). Fixing either can be expensive and time consuming. ( My saws (70cc + 100 cc Husky's) scare me... chaps and helmet every time).

Offline Billy_Bob

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Re: Is file size set-in-stone, or is there leeway?
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2005, 10:22:16 AM »
I was once in the service business for various products (not chainsaws), but in general, I found it was best to follow the advice of the manufacturer.

We had a few service techs who did not follow the manufacturer's advice - a lot of their repairs came back because they did not last.

For those techs who did follow the manufacturer's advice, the repairs lasted as if the product was new.

So I always say fix it right or don't fix it at all and get the manufacturer's service manual - follow their recommendations.

These folks designed the product, so who better to advise you on the proper maintenance, adjustment, etc. of the product?

Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Is file size set-in-stone, or is there leeway?
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2005, 10:30:21 AM »
 To step down a file size when the chain gets used past the half way mark is a widely accepted practice.If you do a "trick" chain,you way use several sizes and shapes[round,"goofey" etc.].Generally speaking,the stated size would normally be the best choice."Trick" chains are just a specially filed racing chain and usually good for just that one purpose.I can file a fast one but I am just a novice when  comparred to others.

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